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Juncker's plan must give equal priority to human investment: report

BRUSSELS, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- A think-tank's report released on Monday said human investment must be given equal priority to physical investment by the new European Union (EU) Commission against background of "unacceptably" high unemployment across EU countries.

The report, named "UNEQUAL EUROPE Recommendations for a more caring EU" Which is released by Brussels based think-tank Friends of Europe, said because of the EU's high unemployment particularly of young people, human investment must be given equal priority with investment in infrastructure, innovation and all the other areas seen as crucial to Europe's global competitiveness.

The report argues to avoid long-term burdens on economic growth, it's essential for Jean-Claude Juncker's Commission to take a far broader approach to social investment.

"Austerity and the economic crisis have seen 'Social Europe' pushed steadily down the EU's policy agenda," said Friends of Europe in a statement.

Therefore the think-tank convened last year a heterogeneous high-level group of experts under the chairmanship of former Belgian deputy premier and social affairs minister Frank Vandenbroucke to analyse the facts and propose solutions.

According to Friends of Europe, there are 25 well-known experts working on the report and they span a wide range of political opinion with the diversity reflected by membership of trades union and employers' organisation leaders as well as prominent economists and former ministers and EU commissioners.

"Initial fears that they might agree on only a few issues were quickly dispelled," the statement said.

"Shared concerns over human capital as part of the drive to improve Europe's global competitiveness saw the emphasis placed firmly on consensus," the statement added.

The "highly unusual" 20-page report are being presented to the EU institutions' new leaderships. It sets out the strengths and weaknesses of social policies, and recommends actions to reaffirm Europe's social principles while at the same time addressing competitiveness issues.

Their report urges greater investment in the caring of Europe's deprived and under-privileged, and the education and training that can ensure equality of opportunity.

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